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RENFE is Spain's national railway operator. The name RENFE is an acronym of Red Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Españoles (National Network of the Spanish Railways).

RENFE operates Spain's 15,000 km (or 9,500 mile) system of railways. For historical reasons the tracks built up to 1988 are broad gauge tracks, wider than the tracks of most other European countries. Spain is a country with many mountain ranges. Because of this, a commission estimated that a gauge wider than the European one would allow bigger steam engines, which would make easier the ascent of the slopes. A few years later this technical problem was solved, but the huge cost of a possible change of the tracks and the rolling stock to the European gauge left the Spanish network rather isolated from the rest of Western Europe, except for Portugal, which adopted the Spanish gauge. Certain through trains do run to and from France: they adjust the separation of their wheels at the frontier, so that they can run on both railway systems.

The company was formed on 24 January 1941 when Spain's railways were nationalised.

In addition to intercity transport, RENFE operates commuter train systems in a number of major cities, including Madrid and Barcelona. The former was targeted in the March 11, 2004 Madrid attacks. In the latter it is supplemented by the Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat de Catalunya, Catalonia's rail system.

In 1988 construction of the high-speed rail between Madrid and Seville began, and in 1991 operation of this line was started. The second high-speed rail, from Madrid to Barcelona, is under construction. The greater part of the line, from Madrid to Lleida, was put in service on October 11, 2003; the extension to Barcelona, is expected to open in 2005. Another high speed route from Madrid to Valladolid is under construction, and other lines to Valencia and Lisbon are being designed.

The Spanish high-speed system is called AVE. The name is an acronym of Alta Velocidad Espaņola (Spanish high-speed), but "ave" is at the same time the Spanish word for "bird".

The high-speed tracks are built to the standard European gauge. Speed on the Seville line is 300 km/h. The line to Lleida is slower, though engineering upgrades to bring it up to 350 km/h are promised.

See also

External links

es:Renfe fr:Renfe nl:Red Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Espaņoles ro:RENFE sv:Renfe


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